Joshua Moller-Mara L&S Sciences
Uncertainty, Herding, and Information Cascades in the Brain
My research involves various aspects of decision making in social situations. When making decisions, people generally don’t have all the information necessary to make an informed decision. So, to make up for this lack of information, people rely on the behavior and decisions of others. This occurs in many everyday situations, for example, in choosing a restaurant to dine in based on the number of patrons. In certain situations, this behavior can be rational. In what are called “”information cascades”” people rationally follow the actions of others, even when their own information goes against the decisions of others. I am interested in what factors influence this herding behavior, and to what degree it differs from an optimal Bayesian strategy. How do people weight their own private evidence against the public decisions of others? Are there heuristics used in decision making that are non-optimal in certain situations?